‘Freedom from all forms of violence’: Using Zimbabwe’s new Constitution to encourage rape law reform

  • Douglas Coltart University of Cape Town
Keywords: Zimbabwe, constitution, rape, violence, violence against women, South Africa, comparative, sentencing, sexual offenders


The right to ‘freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources’, enshrined in Zimbabwe’s new Constitution, could have a significant impact on efforts to end violence against women (VAW) in the country. The right is particularly relevant in the Zimbabwean context where VAW occurs in a range of settings, from the most intimate of relationships in the home to the state’s use of rape as a political weapon. One way in which the state can fulfil its duty to address VAW is through the reform of the country’s rape law. With comparative reference to the impact of the right to freedom from violence in South African law, this article discusses three areas of Zimbabwean law that present potential obstacles to achieving justice for rape survivors: the definition of the rime of rape, the abolished but tenacious cautionary rule, and the sentencing of sexual offenders.

  • Abstract 98
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